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New school Victoria Holt

An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James

So, this cover is so gorgeous (and, fortuitously fills one of my last remaining bingo squares) that I couldn't resist buying it a few years ago. And there it languished, on my kindle, in a TBR pile that would reach halfway 'round the world. But a comment from Hooked on Books, and the need to fill a "paranormal + romance" category on a team challenge got me thinking about this book.


I really liked this book! I'm a fan of Victoria Holt's brand of new gothic romance from my teens and this book definitely hits a lot of those same high points. However, because her books were written and published in the 1970's, re-reading Victoria Holt, for me, is always nine parts enjoyment and one part cringing at the gender roles. Simone St. James, in updating the genre, has also updated the gender interactions a bit - not so much that they are absurd for their time, but a nod to her audience and more modern thinking. In this book, the heroine, Jillian, is a student in one of the few women's colleges at Oxford University. She's not, perhaps, as strong willed as the likes of Harriet Vane, but she is also no shrinking violet.


The book is set in Cornwall, a nod to Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca perhaps, although the long history of Lorna Doone-style smugglers always makes Cornwall a go to setting for this style of novel.


All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed An Inquiry into Love and Death, and would recommend it for fans of Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels, and Susanna Kearsley.